Occasionally I break out some telepathic kung fu karate chop skillz. At the most inappropriate times, of course.
Like…when I’m in the kitchen and I go to flip a cake out of its pan onto a plate. And it cracks into no fewer than five pieces, half of it inevitably remaining attached to the pan even though gravity would have it otherwise.
And while, to the unassuming eye, it might look like I merely didn’t grease my pan properly. (Who, ME?!?!? Never.) I think we all know that the secret ninja that lives inside my left bicep mistook that cake for a block of wood. And, through her finely tuned mental prowess, chopped it into oblivion without me even having to move a muscle! Really, we’re just lucky she doesn’t have a vendetta against my carotids. Let’s keep it that way.
I think what I’m really trying to say is that kitchen disasters happen in my life all too frequently. I drop things. I don’t read directions. I cross the street without looking both ways.
I forget to dilute the 10X buffer that I’ve dissolved my DNA in. Oh wait, sorry. That’s a lab disaster. Also, an all-too frequent occurrence. (Really, bicep ninja!? Can’t you just let a girl be?)
Sometimes there’s no real explanation for a why a recipe flops, however. Or why half of it decided to stick to your pan while the other half didn’t.
And the only thing you can do is try it again. Once more, with feeling.
The broken cake that I keep referring to is one that I made for my ex-roommate (but still friend!) Sophie’s birthday last year. I somehow salvaged it by turning all three layers into cake pops. (Okay, cake rubix cubes if we’re being specific.) But I thought it deserved a do-over nonetheless. So here we are.
Part of growing as a chef is learning your limitations – where you tend to falter and where you more often than not excel.
I bake cupcakes better than I bake cakes. It’s just a fact. Cupcakes are cuter, easier to decorate, are less susceptible to bicep ninja attacks, and you can eat three in a row without feeling even a speckle of guilt. You can’t say the same thing about cakes.
So rather than try to redo the triple layer cake as it was originally intended (and try to force myself to be something I’m not), I thought I would work with my skill set. Make cupcakes instead. And judging by the looks on my coworkers faces as they bit into these babies…I made the right decision. The cupcakes themselves are light, fluffy and very vanilla, while the mango curd is just tart enough to offset their sweetness and a tad bit spicy from the hint of ginger. They really do make for the perfect midday or after-dinner snack. Just don’t invite your bicep ninja to the festivities. There’s no telling what havoc she might wreak.
This post was sponsored by Frigidaire. When you share your own do-over moment at Facebook.com/Frigidaire, Frigidaire will donate $1 to Save the Children’s U.S. programs. Plus, Frigidaire will help cover the costs for one lucky visitor to win the ultimate do-over.
Vanilla Buttermilk Cupcakes
Makes 16-24 (I got 18), adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 sticks butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup granulated white sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- Preheat the oven to 350. Line muffin cups with liners.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.)
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy on medium-high speed, about 3 minutes. Add in the eggs and egg yolks, one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add in the vanilla extract.
- Add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk. Mix until combined and the batter is smooth.
- Fill the cupcake liners with the batter about halfway or just barely over halfway.
- Bake for about 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs. Allow to cool completely before frosting/curd-ing.
Mango Ginger Curd
Makes about 3-4 cups, an Eats Well With Others Original
- 2 cups sugar
- 8 tbsp corn starch
- 4 tbsp flour
- 1 tsp dried ginger
- 1 cup cold water
- 1 1/2 cups worth pureed mango flesh
- 4 tbsp fresh lime juice
- 6 egg yolks
- 4 tbsp butter, softened
- 2 cups boiling water
- In a saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch, flour, and ginger. Gradually blend in cold water, mango puree, and lime juice.
- Add the egg yolks and butter, blending until smooth.
- Gradually add in the boiling water, stirring constantly.
- Place the saucepan over medium high heat and bring to a boil, stirring gently with a spatula and scraping the bottom to prevent burning. Once the mixture begins to thicken, reduce the heat and simmer for one minute.
- Remove from heat and let cool completely (I usually refrigerate it overnight.)
- Fill cupcakes with curd either by cutting them in half and piping some in the middle or by plunging a piping bag fitted with a star or 1M tip into the center of the cupcakes and piping it inside them.